Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

A lovely, romantic tale featuring horrid first impressions, a Bollywood-style wedding, and so much more! 

DESCRIPTION:


A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Contemporary, Retelling

Publisher: Berkley Books

Expected Publication Date: June.4.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

 As far as Pride and Prejudice retellings go, this is a fairly decent one. If you’re familiar with the original, then its easy to see the parallels between the two. Which isn’t a bad thing. It was entertaining trying to figure out how the big plot points of the original would unfold. Besides, there were moments where I was so completely engrossed, that I forgot it was a retelling! 

What I particularly liked was the dual viewpoint. We see what Ayesha is up to, how she feels, we understand her. We also get Khalid’s view! So his horrible first proposal? Completely makes sense because we’ve come to see how and why he acts the way he does. 

A big part of this story weaves religion (Islam) into the narrative. Both Ayesha and Khalid are devout Muslims, which is crucial to the way they interact with one another. I really liked how that was explored. 

The overall tone of the story is pretty upbeat and light-hearted. But there are moments where things got really real. It is a modern-day retelling so prejudice towards Muslims does appear. The way it was handled is important. Especially as hatred spreads through our society like wildfire. 

One thing I did not like? Lydia’s (okay, that’s not her name in this book, but I am not spoiling the story by telling you who she is) happily ever after. Ugh! Why?? She’s so annoying! :/

RATING: 3.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? Yes! This is such a refreshing take on a classic tale. Plus, that cover! Googly heart eyes forever ❤

2019: Week 21 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.19 – Saturday.May.25

AKA: Honor a veteran and remember the sacrifice of those no longer with us ❤

FINISHED READING: 5

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

​A quick audiobook listen. Written in verse, the book is an incredibly relatable story of Xiomara, a teen girl in New York. The hype is real! [5*]

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

​Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, embarked on a cross-country trip across America. It’s beautifully perceptive. [3.5*]

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (read by Philip Franklin)

​A cautionary tale. At least, that’s the way I choose to interpret it. A young man wanders off to the Alaskan wild. Months later his emaciated body is found by a hunter. What happened, and why did he leave everything behind? [3.5*]

Native Son by Richard Wright

​Societal critique with overt Communist ideals. It’s graphic and harrowing. This book is a lot. [3.5*]

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

​Sexually explicit, but oh so good haha! [RTC]

CURRENTLY READING: 1

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Currently 42% through the audiobook. It’s, um, interesting. 

UPCOMING READ: 1

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I need a horror book in my life right now haha

BOOK HAUL: 1

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Won this in a Goodreads Giveaway! I waited almost 2 months for this book to arrive. Can’t wait to finally read it! 

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

Let’s Get Personal: Mental Health Month

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

A heartbreaking dual-narrative story set in WWII Shanghai and modern-day Australia about survival, family, and love.

DESCRIPTION:

Kirsty Manning makes her US debut with this gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.


1939:
Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.


2016:
Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself. 


The Song of the Jade Lily
is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Historical Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow

Expected Publication Date: May.14.2019

*Thank you William Morrow for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

I absolutely loved this book. Books that teach me something new, stick with me for quite a long time. And this one, taught me a lot. 

So what exactly did this book teach me? History! The focus of this book is on Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Those who escaped Hitler’s regime during WWII. It’s incredibly eye-opening. An aspect of the war I had never considered was revealed to me.

The story itself is told through two timelines. There is the WWII narrative where we see one young girl (Romy) and her family scraping a life together in Shanghai after experiencing such horror in Europe. Then there is the modern-day narrative (set in 2016), where we learn what happened to the young girl and her family. 

It’s a tearjerker, this book. It’s one bad thing after another. But there are instances of love and so much strength and resilience. Which is what made me fall for this book. That through it all, people were still fighting, and resisting. Empowering. 

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES!! Most definitely! It’s not your typical WWII novel, in that it doesn’t focus on the European theater.

2019: Week 17 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.21 – Saturday.April.27

AKA: The week I rushed to the doctor and got a booster shot because I work with tiny little humans and I refuse to die from a 19th-century disease like some Dickens peasant…

FINISHED READING: 3

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

​Three different storylines intertwine, all relating in some way, to the husband’s secret. The secret itself a doozy, and one we find out early on in the book. The main focus is on the consequences of actions taken (or not taken) by the characters. An easy, fast-paced read. I really liked the epilogue! (A lot of… what if…) [3*]

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (narrated by Mariska Hargitay and Lin-Manuel Miranda)

​Best book ever! Everything you ever wanted to know about the musical Hamilton is in this fabulous book. Costume choices, lighting, picking the performers, etc. I am #obsessed. FYI Lin-Manuel narrates the last part about the libretto lyrics, this is where the physical book would have been a better option [4.5*]

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

RTC!! Eventually…


CURRENTLY READING:
2

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (narrated by Jim Dale)

My second read, first time audio listen. Loving it!! Should be finishing it up before the month ends 🙂

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson does it again! I am really enjoying this read!! About 73% through the book. Should be wrapping it up by tonight.


UPCOMING READ:
1

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
I have this audiobook all set and ready to go as soon as I finish Peter Pan.


Well that wraps up another week in reading! Also, this is me right now:



HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!
😀

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

This book was so much more than what I expected! Loved it! Some serious gushing will ensue… 



DESCRIPTION:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Publisher:
Berkley

Expected Publication Date:
May.7.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

Esme is a single mother in Vietnam when she meets an older woman that wants her to fly to America and woo her son, Khai. Esme sees this as an opportunity at a chance at a better life for her family so she agrees to do it. Upon meeting Khai, she realizes that he is a bit strange. When he tells her that he is autistic, she doesn’t really understand what that means. In the span of two months, Esme and Khai have to figure out whether they can form a lasting, loving relationship.

I absolutely adored this book!! Esme is unlike any character I’ve ever encountered before. She is a strong mother. Her every thought and action is dedicated towards giving her daughter a better life. In the States, she works hard. Not only at her waitressing job, but at her studies. She takes every single opportunity to better herself. #empowering

The story itself is also fascinating. It’s a lot of “will they or won’t they”. Once you get to understand the characters, you root for them. I mean, Khai (the love interest) is just so perfect. (Although I’d probably take his tatted up older brother 😉 ) . He’s incredibly smart, kind, and movie star handsome. What’s not to love? There were also a few juicy parts in the story that had me swooning haha.

The ending was super rushed and felt a bit off. But overall, this is a fantastic read!!!

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES!! To romance lovers and anyone looking for a feel-good read.

The Book of Dreams by Nina George

Sobbing. I am sobbing my eyes out. My goodness this book is beautiful.

DESCRIPTION:

Warm, wise, and magical–the latest novel by the bestselling author of THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP and THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO is an astonishing exploration of the thresholds between life and death
 
Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.

After the accident, Sam–a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction–waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight–for hope, for patience, for life–they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.

A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group (NY)

Expected Publication Date:
April.9.2019

*Thank you First To Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

A few years ago I read The Little Paris Bookshop because I found the cover to be gorgeous and the synopsis intrigued me. Boy, was I not prepared for the journey I went on haha. Nina George has this remarkable way of getting you to think about existential questions. That book changed my life. It put everything into perspective for me and helped me through my healing process. 

This book is just as impactful. Sam, Henri, Madelyn, and Edwina’s lives intertwine in a most unexpected way. This novel focuses on life, death, and everything in between as Henri and Madelyn are both coma patients in the same hospital. And surprisingly, they also exist in the same in-between state. We get the viewpoints of all 4 characters thus giving us an interesting, and profound perspective on everything. It’s a soulful, heartbreaking, oddly uplifting novel.  

The writing is lyrical. Everything I’ve come to expect from Nina George. The story tugs on your heartstrings just enough to get you wondering about dreams and what they are. About what happens after death. What, if anything, do we take with us? 

RATING: 4.75/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! If you’re ready to experience an existential crisis and/or bawl your eyes out, then this is the book for you!

Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) by Lorna Landvik

A lovely, funny, and delicious read.

DESCRIPTION:

A bittersweet, seriously funny novel of a life, a small town, and a key to our troubled times traced through a newspaper columnist’s half-century of taking in, and taking on, the world

The curmudgeon who wrote the column “Ramblin’s by Walt” in the Granite Creek Gazette dismissed his successor as “puking on paper.” But when Haze Evans first appeared in the small-town newspaper, she earned fans by writing a story about her bachelor uncle who brought a Queen of the Rodeo to Thanksgiving dinner. Now, fifty years later, when the beloved columnist suffers a massive stroke and falls into a coma, publisher Susan McGrath fills the void (temporarily, she hopes) with Haze’s past columns, along with the occasional reprinted responses from readers. Most letters were favorable, although Haze did have her trolls; one Joseph Snell in particular dubbed her “liberal” ideas the “chronicles of a radical hag.” Never censoring herself, Haze chose to mollify her critics with homey recipes—recognizing, in her constantly practical approach to the world and her community, that buttery Almond Crescents will certainly “melt away any misdirected anger.”

Framed by news stories of half a century and annotated with the town’s chorus of voices, Haze’s story unfolds, as do those of others touched by the Granite Creek Gazette, including Susan, struggling with her troubled marriage, and her teenage son Sam, who—much to his surprise—enjoys his summer job reading the paper archives and discovers secrets that have been locked in the files for decades, along with sad and surprising truths about Haze’s past. 

With her customary warmth and wit, Lorna Landvik summons a lifetime at once lost and recovered, a complicated past that speaks with knowing eloquence to a confused present. Her topical but timeless Chronicles of a Radical Hag reminds us—sometimes with a subtle touch, sometimes with gobsmacking humor—of the power of words and of silence, as well as the wonder of finding in each other what we never even knew we were missing.

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Fiction

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press

Expected Publication Date:
March.26.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

Haze Evans is a seasoned newspaper columnist who has a stroke and falls into a coma. The paper she works for decides to re-run some of her older columns from her illustrious decades-long career, until Haze is able to return to her job. 

Haze’s columns are thought-provoking. She has a way of bringing a big picture topic into focus. Politics, health, friendship, love, and so many other things are discussed in her work. And as she lays in a coma, her words are able to gap the divide between a mother and her teenage son, and many more relationships. 

There was something so heartwarming about this book. I enjoyed getting to know Haze through her writing. The topics she wrote about were topical and extremely fascinating. 

A wonderful book. With lots of yummy recipes inside! Plus, look at that gorgeous cover! 

RATING: 4/5

RECOMMEND? Yes! It’s a delightful read!

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

An emotional rollercoaster. Funny, Depressing, Realistic. Queenie is a book not to be missed!



DESCRIPTION:

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY WOMAN’S DAY, NEWSDAY, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, BUSTLE, AND BOOK RIOT!

“[B]rilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking.” —Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher:
Gallery Books

Expected Publication Date:
March.19.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst, Gallery Books and the Candice Carty-Williams for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. As soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I was hooked. I used my BookishFirst points to claim a copy and I’m so glad I did!

Now, I’m not going to lie. At first, Queenie got on my nerves. Her actions were so irresponsible that I couldn’t bring myself to like her. But that all quickly changed once I realized what was happening. It clicked in my head: #IAmQueenie

Let’s rewind a little bit. Twenty-five year old Queenie and her boyfriend, Tom, have decided to take a break (or at least she believes) and reevaluate their relationship in a few months’ time. During that period, Queenie’s life begins to unravel. She engages in unsafe sexual encounters with awful men, puts her job and career at risk, and ultimately has a breakdown causing her to move in with her grandparents. 

Yeah, a lot is going on in Queenie’s life and she knows something is wrong with her mentally but doesn’t really do anything to help herself until it all gets to be a bit much. I found this aspect to be completely relatable. Because, hello! I had a mental breakdown around the same age and wound up in the hospital diagnosed with an anxiety order and depression. All of Queenie’s physical symptoms? Yeah, I experienced those too. Breathing exercises, color counting? Yup, done those too. 

Queenie has this incredible strength though. She has a great group of friends (the Corgis) and family willing to support her. Going on this journey with her was an experience. At times I wanted to slap her and yell “what are you doing”?! But at the end of the day, I understand her. She didn’t breakdown because of the breakup. That was her triggering point. It was the culmination of many things over the years that broke her. 

This book is about a great many things. Black Lives Matter. Body positivity. Mental Illness. The list goes on. Yet, the book is never preachy. Queenie would never do that. She is real about her world. Honest about her life and experiences. She is trying to figure out who she is in a society that doesn’t always accept her. On some level, we are all Queenie. 

 

RATING:
4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! A must-read for all women. A phenomenal narrative on intersectional feminism.

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A magical tale about love and friendship in Inquisition-era Spain. 

DESCRIPTION:

New from the award-winning author of Alif the Unseen and writer of the Ms. Marvel series, G. Willow Wilson

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. 

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate. 
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Grove Press

Expected Publication Date: March.12.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:
Hassan is a mapmaker highly valued for his special gift. Fatima is a Circassian concubine. The two have been friends since childhood and when one’s life is endangered by the newly established Spanish monarchy, the two decide to flee. They embark on a journey that will have them fighting for their lives and test their devotion to one another. 

The idea of this book is great. Not many novels delve into friendship between two people before making it romantic. That’s not to say there isn’t any romance in the book. There is. Only a tiny little bit. The story is mainly focused on the platonic relationship though. And on their quest to find the fantastical Bird King. 

My historical knowledge of Spain during the Inquisition is slim to none. It was brutal and that’s all I pretty much knew. But reading this book made me aware of things I had been ignorant of before. It’s kind of an educational read wrapped in magical realism. A lovely approach.

Now, I struggled a bit with this book. At times the story was slow. But the writing is beautiful, so I kept reading. I think if the pace would have been faster and I’d been more knowledgeable of the time period, I would have enjoyed it more. 

RATING: 3/5 stars

2019: Week 10 Reading Roundup

Sunday March 3 – Saturday March 9

(AKA the week my baby brother got into college!!!! :D) 

FINISHED READING: 5! (yeah, I’m kind of surprised by that number as well haha)

Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) by Cassandra Clare

​UGGGH! *bangs head against wall* That’s it. That’s my review. [3*]

Dumplin’ (#1) by Julie Murphy

​Whoo!! Yes!! My Bookish Giveaway win came through!! Because let me tell you, Willowdean is my homegirl! Loved her humor. Loved her sense of being. Loved loved loved her. Also, um, hello Bo 😉 [5*]

(P.S. The Netflix movie adaptation wasn’t so great :/

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot

​A memoir unlike any I’ve ever read or listened to before. Mailhot talks about her experience as a Native American woman and her mental illness. An unexpectedly poetic style. Took a bit of getting used to. But a nice experience. Even though the subject matter was a bit tough at times. [3*]

Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon by Jane Austen

​Three semi-finished manuscripts. Lady Susan is written in epistolary form and has an evil MC. The Watsons gave me Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park vibes. Sanditon has a half-mulatto character. The most diversity I’ve ever encountered in a Jane Austen novel. It would have been interesting to see what she did with the character. [3*]

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

​I got an ARC through First to Read and I am forever thankful because I devoured this book! Esme is a strong, single mother who takes every opportunity offered to better herself and provide for her family. Adored her. And I absolutely swooned over Khai. Full Review To Come 😉

CURRENTLY READING: 0

As of writing this post, nothing haha. I just finished reading The Bride Test so I’m not reading anything at the moment.

UPCOMING READ: 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait!

BOOK HAUL: 3

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

One of my favorite books that I recommend every chance I get haha. It’s great to finally have a copy!

The Haunted Bridge (Nancy Drew #15) by Carolyn Keene

I’m building my Nancy Drew collection one book at a time. Plus, I remember relating to Nancy in this story.

The Clue of the Hissing Serpent (The Hardy Boys #53) by F.W. Dixon

Still collecting Stratemeyer Syndicate books.

Phew! A lot of reading done this week.
 


HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!
😀